After we learned Kentucky’s hiring of new head coach Mark Stoops from Florida State, we knew it would take a great hire at offensive coordinator to make the Wildcats relevant on offense. Kentucky finished dead last in the SEC in scoring at just 17.9 points per game, good for 119th in the country. And Stoops made that great hire in former Kentucky wide receiver and Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown.
I’ll be honest, I thought Kentucky would and needed to go in a different direction with a young, offensive-minded head coach, rather than the defensive-minded Stoops – who has no offensive or head coaching experience.
Kentucky needs a different type of offense than other teams – one that is tougher to prepare for in a five-day practice week. And with the right caliber of underrated offensive players, they could win a few games they aren’t supposed to and reel off eight-win seasons. You aren’t just going to line up toe-to-toe with a power running game against the Floridas and Georgias week-in and week-out and expect to win games. It’s not a knock on Kentucky; it’s just the reality of the job. So, the offense must be difficult to prepare against by being different than a regular pro-style offense. Mission accomplished.
“This system has been successful everywhere we’ve been,” Brown said. “We’ve been able to turn some teams that weren’t very good on offense — turn them around quickly. How quick it can be done, I don’t know. It will be done.”
Texas Tech’s offense has ranked seventh or better nationally in passing and top 15 in total yards per game each of the past three seasons in Lubbock.
It’s easy to get caught up in the air attack offense label, but the Red Raiders’ offense also was able to run the football and provide some sense of balance on offense. This is something we all know teams must do in the SEC to win games, even at Kentucky. Of 922 total plays this season, Tech’s offense ran it 375 times (41 percent). A normal offense – pro-style and balanced – runs it 60 percent of the time. The Raiders did average 139 yards per game on the ground per game, though.
Returning starter Max Smith will be great in this offense. Smith threw for 975 yards and eight touchdowns in only three complete games because of injury. The rest of the other three quarterbacks – Jalen Whitlow, Morgan Newton and Patrick Towles – combined for just 1,107 yards and five touchdowns with six interceptions in nine games. Smith is the right guy for this offense, and he should put up some fantastic numbers next season.
While I was somewhat neutral on the Mark Stoops’ hire, I love Brown to lead the offense.
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